Students give a presentation in a boardroom for the US Bank Case Challenge

Carlson THRIVE takes on virtual world in U.S. Bank Case Challenge

Friday, March 4, 2022

The web is expanding to new frontiers with virtual reality, and so is banking. But what might that look like?

That was the question six student teams from the Carlson School’s THRIVE program faced for the annual U.S. Bank Case Challenge. The teams had one week to research and prepare a presentation to demonstrate how they thought U.S. Bank might meet the needs of consumers in the virtual world five years from now.

Three students present in a boardroom
Abdullahi Abdi ‘23 BSB (left); Sidney Enninga, ‘22 BSB; and Htoo Say, ‘25 BSB, present during the Carlson THRIVE U.S. Bank Case Challenge.

On Feb. 25, three finalist teams presented to a panel of judges made up of industry experts and U.S. Bank executives. After deliberations, the judges determined Sidney Enninga, ‘22 BSB; Zeke Jackson, ‘23 BSB; Abdullahi Abdi ‘23 BSB; Htoo Say, ‘25 BSB, had the winning strategy and would receive a $3,000 scholarship, while the finalist teams also received a $1,000 scholarship.

“I think our presentation stood out because of [how we put it together],” said Enninga. “We worked on telling a story rather than just pitching an idea."

“Presenting can be really intimidating – there is a high chance they will ask you a question that you weren't expecting, but building good business presentations is one of the most practical skills that a Carlson [School] student can learn,” said Jackson.

U.S. Bank Vice President of the Consumer and Business Banking Digital Office Tom Michel, ‘91 CLA, served as one of the judges. He says the team stood out because their idea was unique, but also feasible as they considered the associated risks.

“What they did would normally take a seasoned group of employees much longer to put together,” said Michel. “Doing the market research, analyzing risks, considering the return on investment – these are things we do every day. For them to get the opportunity to do that and then pitch their idea with confidence, that’s as real-world as it gets.”

Carlson THRIVE is a business leadership program geared toward Carlson School students who are from historically underrepresented groups and/or are first-generation college students. THRIVE offers students both professional and personal development. For Enninga, experiences like the Case Challenge are invaluable.

“Being a part of THRIVE has given me more opportunities than I could have imagined,” said Enninga. “This case competition has taught me how to network with professionals. Few students get an opportunity like this and I’m so thankful I’ve been able to participate three times throughout my time at the Carlson School.”